activity, including walking on a treadmill and stretching and resistance
exercise, appears to improve gait speed, muscle strength, and fitness for
patients with Parkinson disease, say researchers at the University of Maryland. Their article is published online in Archives of Neurology.
researchers compared 67 people with Parkinson disease who were randomly
assigned to 1 of 3 exercise groups: walking on a treadmill at low intensity for
50 minutes, higher-intensity treadmill training to improve cardiovascular
fitness for 30 minutes, and using weights (leg presses, extensions and curls)
and stretching exercises to improve muscle strength and range of motion.
Participants exercised 3 times a week for 3 months under the supervision of
exercise physiologists at the Baltimore VA Medical Center.
investigators found improved cardiovascular fitness in both the higher- and
lower-intensity treadmill exercise groups. However, only the stretching and
resistance exercises improved muscle strength (16% increase) during the study.
measurement was distance covered during a 6-minute walk, where all 3 types of
exercisers showed improvement compared with their baseline measurement:
lower-intensity treadmill exercise (12% increase), stretching and resistance
exercises (9% increase), and higher-intensity treadmill exercises (6%
are encouraged to see that the lower-intensity treadmill exercise, which is
feasible for most Parkinson patients, proved to have the greatest benefit for
mobility while also improving cardiovascular fitness," said Lisa Shulman,
MD, the study's principle investigator.
E. Ray Dorsey, MD, coauthor of an accompanying journal editorial,
told HealthDay News, "I hope this study adds to the
evidence that exercise should be the standard of care."